The message boards are currently in a frenzy about
SJC Edison. The tournament at Edison, the 75th and
final Shonen Jump Championship, was a yin and yang
mixture of delight and distaste. Everywhere I
looked, I saw a glorious good that was Counter
Countered by a crippling drawback.
Konami has clearly done an amazing job at promoting
the game. The attendance figures shattered (and
almost doubled) the previous record for premier
event attendance. The game is healthy and
competitive play has really surged since Konami's
takeover of its brand from Upper Deck.
During my brief hiatus from blogging, Konami was
just gathering momentum in setting up a proper
tournament staff and system. As many of you know,
the counterfeiting scandal from Upper Deck occurred
about a year before their contract was to expire;
Konami was caught off guard and took over the game
with no real knowledge of tournament organization
and event management. When talking with some of the
top level 3 judges at the time, I was told that
Julia Hedberg inherited an Organized Play structure
that had very little funds and experience. In less
than a year, with the help of others, she
transformed it into a juggernaut drawing record
We should be very grateful to all members of Konami,
the judging staff, or the coverage team that helped
smooth over the transition from Upper Deck without
leaving competitive Yu-Gi-Oh! in the dark. While I
personally have had my share of differences with
many of these people, our game would probably be
dead without their hard efforts and contributions.
The next time you see one of these people (or anyone
who seems remotely Konami-affiliated), feel free to
wrap them in a bear hug or perform some other act of
awkward physical intimacy. They will secretly enjoy
the warmth; all of their hard efforts are directed
towards making sure Yu-Gi-Oh! players can continue
this wonderful hobby. Thank you.
Generating Some Constructive Feedback
Many times in the past, concerns about organized
play were brought up on unofficial forums (such as
Pojo) and then addressed. Examples include the move
from a top eight cutoff to a top sixteen, increased
prize cards to the top 4 (instead of just the
winner), and adjustments to the Forbidden List.
Konami's leadership seems very progressive and
dedicated to growth. Unfortunately, the rounds at
SJC Edison were marred by extreme delays. It took
about 12 hours to complete eight rounds of swiss due
to the immense player pool. And while it is unfair
to blame tournament staff or Konami for the delays
(the alternative would be to cap entrants), I feel
there is a constructive way to fix this.I have
assembled a list of concerns from SJC Edison that
were relayed to me from players who wanted a voice.
Perhaps some of these will be helpful in the future.
1. Increase Efficiency Through Computerization
Organized YGO play still sticks to many 90's type
conventions that seem to decrease efficiency. As
many of you know, match slips at events are printed
and then hand cut. Then, the slips are hand
distributed by judges walking up and down the
aisles. The entire process is rather cumbersome and
takes a great deal of time.
The slips are then returned and verified by hand by
a judge. At smaller events, this type of process is
viable. Unfortunately, once attendance reaches
thousands, it is very difficult to continue the
hand-counts without creating immense delays.
I personally feel Konami should move to a type of
kiosk like system. Players could view a projector or
receive their seating assignment from the wall. They
would then sit with their opponent and play the
Upon completion and judge verification of a match,
the players could then travel to the kiosk and sign
the result with their COSSY number. The result would
automatically be updated into the COSSY system
software (or at least easily input by a judge). All
of this would take a fraction of the time required
to cut and distribute match slips, verify them, and
then print out the next set of pairings.
If kiosks (like the ones you find at airports) are
too expensive, Konami could simply use laptops or
computers with large displays. A judge or staff
member could stand at each laptop and watch the
players return and sign their match slip.
I would estimate these types of developments would
save Konami or its organizers immeasurable money in
terms of generating revenue through side events,
hiring judge staff, renting venue time, and
encouraging player participation. If a set of kiosks
would cost 800 or so dollars (and be transportable),
perhaps four kiosks in total would do the trick.
These could be reused and would save the need to
bring a printer and extra staff to each event.
If you can carry a Stardust Dragon statue from event
to event, a few computers should be easy! I would
estimate about thirty minutes could be shaved off
each round (and many, many judges) by implementing a
more efficient match system.
2. Increase Efficiency in Round Pairings
Players were constantly complaining about the
incredibly large lines for pair ups. At all official
events, the list of pairings is posted on a wall for
players to view (and accept seat assignments).
Unfortunately, this system doesn't work when there
are five hundred players at each wall.
The staff only printed one set of pairings for each
name bracket. So the A-E bracket, for example, was
posted on only one wall and immediately
swarmed by hundreds of players. It would be far more
efficient to either utilize a scrolling projector
(that placed the pairings in large font on a wall)
or post multiple pairings sheets for each bracket
all over the venue.
I would estimate about twenty or thirty minutes
per round could have been saved by posting more
sets of pairings for players to receive seating
3. Increase the Match Time to 1 Hour
It's rather silly at present to play a match in
forty minutes (or less) and then wait up to an hour
and a half for the next match to begin. With decks
growing more and more complex these days, a greater
percentage of matches seem to be going to time. I
think increasing match time to one hour would be
prudent for competitive balance and protect
legitimate players against greasy stalling tactics.
4. Treat Judges like Judges, not Swiss Army Knives
The forums are currently abuzz about the perceived
shortcomings of the judging staff at SJC Edison.
Please, please keep in mind that the judge staff was
horribly outmanned. One top judge told me the ratio
was something like 90 players to 1 judge at certain
points during the event. Speaking as an impartial
observer, it would obviously be very difficult to
instantly decipher the truth in any rulings or
match-slip initiated problem.
Having said that, these problems are clearly the
fault of the tournament organizer. Hiring thirty to
forty judges is fine; making an excuse such as "way
too many people showed up!" is not fine. It would be
the equivalent of a store manager only purchasing a
set amount of inventory and angering every remaining
customer who received shoddier service or none at
all! In that scenario, the store manager would be
fired for performing such a poor job.
It's simply unacceptable for players to have to wait
in excess of ten minutes for a ruling with no
extension time. Indeed, that's the very reason that
I lost my round three match (a delay of ten or so
minutes with no accompanying extension). The poor
judges were running from place to place trying to
keep up with the pace of rulings. Also, wasting
judges on menial tasks such as double checking match
slips, overseeing the video game area, or having to
confirm match results seems terribly inefficient
considering the judging shortage.
A good fix would be to hire more judges and take
better care of the judges that have done an
excellent job. I noticed several incredible judges
in street clothes for this event and have heard from
other top judges that many have quit due to
difficulties with the job.
Perhaps judges could be organized into pods that are
then overseen by an Assistant head judge. That way,
a head judge such as Jerome McHale would not have to
run all over the building trying to fix an appeal?
Your feedback is appreciated; I'm sure Konami would
love more suggestions on how to fix this problem.
I truly feel that implementing some of these
suggestions would lead to vast increases in profit
for Konami and a more satisfied customer base. I
noticed that many side events were very slow to
start because of a lack of judges (who were wasting
time on printing new sheets and creating paper
results for each side event). A computerized system
would have likely finished five times the amount of
side events. And side events with sixteen to thirty
two players each buying product (that they wouldn't
otherwise) seems like a great tool for Konami to
Please feel free to offer feedback to me or Konami
in the Pojo thread. Also, take the time to visit my
blog at www.go-ygo.com for more Yu-Gi-Oh! content.